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2007 Grant - Lu
Mapping Prospective Changes in Brain and Cognition in Aging and Disease
Po-Haong Lu, Psy.D.
University of California
Los Angeles, California
2007 New Investigator Research Grant
Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia are progressive disorders that cause gradual damage to the brain over time. New developments in brain imaging techniques, which include sophisticated mathematical analyses, have enabled scientists to better visualize and understand these harmful changes.
One such technique is called tensor-based morphometry (TBM). It enables scientists to compare brain images taken over time and determine how diseased brains may shrink in volume or change in other ways. Scientists can also use TBM data to determine relationships between physical brain alterations and changes in cognitive ability.
For this proposed grant, Po-Haong Lu, Psy.D., and colleagues will employ TBM to analyze an existing database of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans. These scans include brain images taken over time from people with Alzheimer's disease; people with another brain disorder called frontotemporal lobar degeneration; people with mild cognitive impairment, a condition that may precede Alzheimer's; and healthy people. Analysis of this data should enable the researchers to produce brain maps that indicate how certain physical changes may correlate with cognitive decline in multiple neurological disorders. Dr. Lu's team hopes to learn more about how certain factors, such as the presence of the Alzheimer-related gene variant APOE-e4, may affect brain disease processes.
Results of this study could lead to novel ways of diagnosing Alzheimer's disease and other brain disorders at an early stage. Moreover, Dr. Lu's team believes that TBM and other mapping techniques could also be used to analyze the long-term effects of potential Alzheimer drugs.